Elderly woman who appeared in Harrison Pawluk's viral TikTok reveals she was filmed without consent
In another case of 'acts of kindness' gone wrong, popular TikTok creator Harrison Pawluk allegedly "dehumanized" a woman from Melbourne by filming her and posting the video online without her consent. A viral clip shows Harrison asking the woman, Maree, to hold a bouquet while he puts on his jacket. Pawluk then walks away after leaving her with the bouquet and wishes her a good day.
The video, captioned "I hope this made her day better, #wholesome," gained over 59 million views and almost 11 million likes, much like the other videos on his handle @LifeOfHarrison, in which he claims to perform "random acts of kindness".
However, Maree did not like the video's intent and said that she didn't think much of it in a recent interview with ABC Radio Melbourne. "It's the patronizing assumption that women, especially older women, will be thrilled by some random stranger giving them flowers," she added.
Apparently, when she asked the camera crew if they were filming her, they answered in the negative. Her friend later showed her the video, which became viral quite quickly, but she brushed it all off until she stumbled across a tabloid piece.
In her words, the tabloid said, "old woman, elderly woman, heartbreaking tale," which made her feel she was being used as clickbait and made her uncomfortable. What she claimed was a "horrible expression" she gave in the video looked almost like she was crying. She said that she would have outright refused to take the flowers if she were asked to accept them, but she "was never given the opportunity."
She disagreed with Pawluk's claim that this was an "act of kindness." Rather, she believed, "He interrupted my quiet time, filmed and uploaded a video without my consent, turning it into something it wasn't, and I feel like he is making quite a lot of money through it."
She warned other elderly women that this dangerous trend could, in fact, happen to anyone. Harrison, on the other hand, refused to take the video down. His team issued a statement saying, "He offers flowers and pays for complete strangers' groceries, and while cynics may claim it's for views, Harrison simply has a personal commitment to helping people feel more connected and trusting. His videos are filmed in public places and so technically do not require consent."
Legally, the team indeed did not require special consent from Maree since the shooting took place in a public space. Pawluk, in another interview, said that he was not chasing views or money; rather, he just wants to be kind to people. His team claims he was inspired to do this right after returning from Los Angeles, where he "unexpectedly" saw homelessness and poverty. Previously, he was also canceled for having paid for a woman's groceries in another video.